Sarah "Sally" (Wetzel) Heimbach was born on April 3, 1820, the daughter of Johan "Peter" and Anna Margaretha (Gaumer) Wetzel. She grew up not having learned to read or write.
She married Nathan Heimbach (1814-1873).
They produced four offspring -- Lovina Leibensperger, Sarah Ann Miller, Henry Heimbach and Amanda Heimbach. There was an eight-year age gap between the first and second children.
Nathan was a longtime carpenter.
When the United States Census was taken in 1850, the young family made their home in Washington Township, Berks County.
The family relocated to Longswamp Township, Berks County by 1860 and remained there as of 1870. The federal census enumeration of 1870 shows that 60-year-old Elizabeth Heimbach -- Nathan's mother? -- dwelled in their home.
The fate of Nathan is not precisely known because the evidence is confusing. One source, his gravestone, states that he passed away at the age of about 58 or 59, in 1873.
But the United States Census of 1880 shows that he was still alive and living with his unmarried daughter Amanda and next door to his married daughters Lovina Leibensperger and Sarah Miller.
When Nathan eventually passed away, interment was in Huff's Union Church Cemetery in Berks County.
Sarah died at the age of 64 on Feb. 7, 1885 with burial in Huff's cemetery. [Find-a-Grave]
Virtually identical, upright stone markers were erected at both of their graves, each featuring a rounded top edge and a carving of an opened Bible, a common motif in this burial yard. Both were inscribed in the old German script. On Sarah's, her maiden name of "Wetzel" was lettered on the face as well as the name of her husband. Nathan's appears to have been broken into three parts at some point in time, but restored into their place, with the pieces bolted together.
~ Daughter Lovina (Heimbach) Leibensperger ~
Daughter Lovina Heimbach (1839-1903) was born on Jan. 14, 1839.
She married David Leibensperger Sr. (Jan. 6, 1827-1899), also spelled "Leibensberger."
Born and raised on the Nurman farm near Rittenhouse Gap, David was a lifelong resident of Longswamp Township, Berks County. He could neither read nor write.
The couple is believed to have borne these five children -- David J. Leibensperger Jr., Sallie Leibensperger, Alice Fisher, William "Henry" Leibensperger and Nathan Alfred Leibensperger.
They also helped raised a grandson, Nathan Bock, born 1879.
The federal census of 1860 shows the 21-year-old Lovina living with her husband and newborn son David in her parents' farm household in Longswamp.
They remained in Longswamp for decades, near the village of Seisholtzville, close to the Hereford Township border. David earned a living over the years as a carpenter and cooper, and worked at the trade until about a week before his death.
Over the years, when their children came of age, they were baptized and confirmed into the family house of worship, the Huff''s Reformed Church of Zionsville. At each event, their longtime pastor, Rev. Dr. Eli Keller, filled out and signed a confirmation certificate, known as a schein. These documents were written in German for sons David (1874) and William "Henry" (1878) and in English for Nathan Alfred (1886), with the originals preserved today in the Minerd.com Archives.
Heartache cascaded over the family when sons William Henry (1885) and Nathan Alfred (1891) passed away as young men. Whatever caused their untimely deaths is not yet known. Their remains were lowered into holy rest in the Huff's Church Cemetery, with grave markers erected and inscribed in the German language.
Sadly, David contracted a case of the grip (pneumonia) and succumbed at the age of 71 on Feb. 17, 1899. A short obituary in the Allentown Leader said that Rev. Keller of Zionsville would preach the funeral sermon at Huff's Church. Five years later, a public sale of his possessions was held in Seisholtzville.
Lovina outlived him by five years. In 1900, when the federal census was taken, she lived in Longswamp with her son David, and she disclosed that only three of her five children were still living.
She died at the age of 64 on April 12, 1903. Her remains were placed into rest in Huff's Union Church Cemetery. Pallbearers were Charles Fenstermacher, Charles Reinert, David Conrad and Nicholas Bauer. [Find-a-Grave] Interestingly, showing the evolution of the local language customs from German into English, her and David's grave markers were inscribed in English, unlike their son Nathan's from just eight years earlier.
Son David J. Leibensperger Jr. (1860-1933) was born on Jan. 17, 1860. When he was 14 years of age, David was baptized and confirmed into the family house of worship, the Reformed Church of Zionsville. The pastor, Rev. Eli Keller, filled out and signed a confirmation certificate, known as a schein, written in German. Circa 1880, he lived at home with his parents earned income as a coal mine laborer. At the age of about 29, in 1889, he was united in matrimony with Tannie Hoffman (June 8, 1867-1927), daughter of George and Hettie (Reinert) Hoffman. Their two offspring were Mary Wetzel and William Leibensperger. They were farmers for many years and resided in Longswamp, Berks County and later in Macungie, Lehigh County. David's widowed mother and 49-year-old uncle Henry Heimbach lived under their roof circa 1900. Census records for 1910 show David, Tannie and the children on their Longswamp farm. At the age of 59, on Jan. 30, 1927, Tannie died from the effects of "locomotor ataxia" -- a degeneration of the spinal column which causes loss of control of bodily movements. Her remains were lowered into rest in the cemetery at Huff's Church. David survived her by another six years and in 1930 dwelled in in the home of his married daughter in Rittenhouse Gap near Seisholtzville, with a post office of "Macungie R. 2." He and his bachelor son earned a living circa 1930 as laborers in a local granite works. As David's health was failing during the Christmas season in 1930, his sister Alice Fisher and her son Fred drove from Pennsburg to pay a visit. He recovered sufficiently that in June 1931, he and his son William drove to Pennsburg to see the Fishers. But burdened with heart disease, hardening of the arteries and pneumonia, David succumbed at the age of 73 on Sept. 2, 1933. Son-in-law John J. Wetzel of Macungie signed the Pennsylvania death certificate. Funeral services were held in the Wetzel home, with a shorter one following in Huff's Church, with burial was in Union Cemetery, said the Allentown Morning Call.
Great-granddaughter Eva S. Wetzel (1913- ? ) was born in about 1913 in Longswamp Township. She was joined in holy matrimony with Henry Erb ( ? - ? ). Their residence in 1963 was in rural Mertztown, Berks County.
Great-grandson Oscar D. Wetzel (1915- ? ) was born in about 1915 in Longswamp Township. He worked as a truck driver for a contracting business in 1940. His home in 1974 was in Zionsville, Lehigh County.
Great-grandson Charles Wetzel (1917- ? ) was born on June 6, 1917 in Longswamp Township. In 1940, at age 23, he lived at home and earned income working for a local distillery. He joined the U.S. Army on May 14, 1941, about seven months before the nation was plunged into World War II. On his 25th birthday, in 1942, he was stationed "somewhere in Australia," said the Allentown Morning Call. His home in 1963-1974 was in rural Macungie.
Great-grandson John J. Wetzel Jr. (1920-1974) was born in 1920 in Longswamp Township. At the age of 20, in 1940, he labored at a stone quarry. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and returned home in early November 1945. He married Virginia Williams ( ? -2006). Their only child was Sherry Wetzel. The couple is believed to have separated. In later years, John was employed by Carl H. Betz of Orefield as a truck driver. He died at age 54 on June 13, 1974 in Allentown Osteopathic Hospital, with an obituary printed in the Morning Call. Virginia worked for General Electric for three decades and lived in Allentown. She died on April 1, 2006.
Great-granddaughter Mary Wetzel (1924- ? ) was born in about 1924 in Longswamp Township. She was united in wedlock with Peter Rios ( ? - ? ). They relocated to Atlanta, GA where they lived in 1963. By 1974, she had remarried to Dalton Grizzle ( ? - ? ) and returned to Pennsylvania, living in rural Alburtis.
Great-grandson Russell H. Wetzel (1928- ? ) was born in about 1928 in Longswamp Township. He dwelled in 1963-1974 in rural Macungie.
Great-grandson Thomas G. Wetzel (1930- ? ) was born in about 1930 in Longswamp Township. He lived in rural Macungie in 1963-1974.
Son William "Henry" Leibensperger (1861-1885) was born on Jan. 23, 1861 in Longswamp Township, Berks County. He would have grown up learning the family's trade of farming. At the age of 17, on Nov. 2, 1878, he was confirmed in the family congregation, Huff's Reformed Church of Hereford Township, Berks County, using the ancient Heidelberg Catechism for his confession of Protestant faith. To mark the milestone, he received a German-language schein (confirmation certificate, printed in New York) on which was printed a religious declaration of blessings and beliefs as well as handwritten details of Henry's life. The church's longtime pastor, Rev. Eli Keller, signed his name on the document, which today is preserved in the Minerd.com Archives.
Henry is known to have labored as a miner in 1880, likely in local ore pits, and lived with his parents in Longswamp at that time. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 24 years, five months and 24 days on July 16, 1885. The cause of his untimely death is not yet known. His remains were lowered below the sod in Huff's Church Cemetery. [Find-a-Grave] An upright stone marker was placed at his grave, featuring a rounded top edge and a carving of an opened Bible, a common motif in this burial yard. The lettering was inscribed in the old German script. Across the top, on a curved line, is the phrase "Zum Undenten An," which in English means "For the moment" and reflects the Leibenspergers' belief in the Christian Resurrection. A notation on the left-hand Bible page stating that the funeral text was based on Psalms 102: 24-25. Reflecting the agony and grief his parents must have felt, balanced against their faith, the verse reads:
I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
Daughter Sarah A. "Sallie" Leibensperger (1863- ? ) was born in about 1863. She was lived at home in 1880-1899. She was deceased by 1933.
Daughter Alice Leibensperger (1866-1950) was born on May 29, 1866 in Berks County. She married George M. Fisher (July 23, 1861-1919), son of Lorenz "Lawrence" and Elizabeth (Moll) Fisher. They were farmers. In 1899, they dwelled in Dale, PA. Sadly, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, George was cut away by the Grim Reaper at the age of 56 on July 1, 1919. Alice outlived him by 31 years. In 1933, she was in Pennsburg, Montgomery County, PA. When her brother David was in failing health circa 1930-1933, Alice and her son Fred drove to his home for a visit. The widowed Alice lived at 436 Dotts Street in Pennsburg circa 1950. Having borne acute heart disease, she died at the age of 83 on May 4, 1950. Interment was in Huff's Reformed Church Cemetery. J.C. Landis of Pennsburg was the informant for the official Pennsylvania certificate of death. [Find-a-Grave]
Son Nathan Alfred Leibensperger (1874-1891) was born on April 25, 1874. At the age of 12, on Nov. 6, 1886, Nathan was confirmed in the family house of worship, Huff's Reformed Church in Hereford Township, Berks County. In joining the congregation, as had his brothers David and William Henry in previous years, he received a confirmation schein (certificate), signed by the church pastor, Rev. Eli Keller. Unlike similar scheins in the German language received by his brothers, his was printed entirely in English. The scripture quoted on the schein was I John 5:4: -- "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
But Nathan was not destined to reach adulthood. At the age of 16 years, 10 months and two days, he passed away on Feb. 27, 1891. The cause of his untimely death is not known. Interment was in Huff's Church burying ground. No obituary is known to have been published in an Allentown or Reading newspaper. [Find-a-Grave]
An upright stone marker was placed at Nathan's grave, featuring a rounded top edge and a carving of an opened Bible, a common design in this old burial yard. The lettering was inscribed in the old German script. Across the top, on a curved line, is the phrase "Zum Undenten An," which in English means "For the moment" and reflects the Leibenspergers' belief in the Christian Resurrection. A notation on the left-hand page states that the funeral text was based on a biblical passage of chapter and verse "13:14." but the name of the book of the Bible is all but illegible.
~ Daughter Sarah Anna (Heimbach) Miller ~
Daughter Sarah Anna Heimbach (1846-1903) was born in July 1846.
She married coal miner Isaac Miller (Dec. 1845-1902). He could neither read nor write.
The couple produced four children and outlived three by 1900. Two of the sons are believed to have been Henry S. Miller and Jonathan Miller.
The 1870 federal census shows that she was married but -- likely while Isaac was away working elsewhere -- lived with her parents in Longswamp. Then in 1872, after the birth of their son Henry in the Topton community, the family relocated to Seisholtzville in Hereford Township, where Isaac found work as an iron ore miner.
When the 1880 federal census enumeration was made, the Millers lived next to Sarah's widowed father and near her married sister Lovina Leibensperger and family in Longswamp. The census-taker noted that Isaac, continuing as an ire ore mine laborer, had spent two months unemployed during the year. He tried to enlist his son Henry in the mining work, but "it soon became evident that he was not rugged enough physically for that type of manual labor," said the Allentown Morning Call.
Their home was near Huff's Church, a landmark so well known that the name was adopted by the adjacent community. They most likely were members of the church's congregation.
U.S. Census records for 1900 show the couple in Hereford Township with their married son and young family in the household. That year, Isaac earned a living as a miner of iron ore and son Henry as a stonecutter.
Sadly, Isaac contracted catarrh of the stomach (inflammation and swelling) and at the age of 56 passed away on Oct. 11, 1902. His funeral "was well attended," said the Allentown Leader. His survivors included his siblings Benneville, Miller of Bowers, Elijah Miller of Mertztown, Joel Miller of Youngstown, OH, Mrs. William Kline of Fredereicksville, Hettie Heydt of Amityville and Marie Seip of Strouchsburg.
Sarah outlived her spouse by only a year. Suffering from Bright's Disease (kidney failure) and heart problems, she succumbed in mid-July 1903, just a week before her 57th birthday. The Allentown Morning Call noted that she had "died suddenly on Sunday afternoon while sitting in a chair. She had been ailing for several months from dropsy but was not critically ill at any time. Her husband died about six months ago." Funeral services were led by Rev. O.R. Frantz of Zionsville who was pastor of Huff's Church. An obituary in the Leader reported that "She leaves one son, one brother and one sister."
Son Henry S. Miller (1872-1949) was born on Feb. 13, 1872 in Topton and moved in infancy to the community of Seisholtzville. He was sickly in boyhood, and at the age of 16 endured the Blizard of 1888. In later years he recalled that most people had no conception what an "old time blizzard really was like." He tried following his father's work as an iron ore miner but was not robust enough physically to handle the rigors of the work. He then decided to go into medicine and to train as a teacher as a preparatory step. But his family physician intervened, saying that Henry's health could not endure indoor work. He needed the open air. In the 1890s, Henry became fascinated by the work of Italian stone masons who had come to Seisholtzville to obtain and cut granite for a mansion being built in Catasauqua in nearby Lehigh County. He watched the men at work as much as he could. His father observed this and arranged for the youth to begin an apprenticeship to stone cutter Henry Homscher. When he was 18 years of age, he worked for the firm of Swoyer and Lees, cutting stone, and spent two years there in an apprenticeship. He then left and secured a position with the Saylor tombstone cutting business in Collegeville, PA. As a Saylor employee, he cut Pennsylvania blue marble to fashion stone floors for two rooms of the Pennsylvania building at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. In about 1896, at age 24, he married Annie V. Beitler (or "Beidler") (June 1877-1935), daughter of August and Sarah (Benfield) Beitler of Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County. They were the parents of Mazie B. Prutzman, Daisy B. Gehman and Bessie Wetzel, plus one who died young. They also raised a granddaughter, Iva Prutzman, from the age of three onward. In 1900, the Millers resided with Henry's parents. After the deaths of Henry's parents, they relocated in 1916 to Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County, which Henry must have thought would be a larger market for his services. In Macungie, the family were members of Solomon's Reformed Church and the Patriotic Order of Americans. Henry enjoyed singing with three different church choirs, and later in life was a member of the Upper Milford Mennonite Church and its choir.
He continued the stone-cutting occupation as shown by the 1930 census. That year, their 12-year-old granddaughter Iva Prutzman lived under their roof. Occasionally, Henry's name was in the news in recognition of his work, such as when one of his markers was erected on the burial site of David K. Sterner at Huff's Church in August 1922. Sadly, suffering from what the Allentown Morning Call referred to as "an illness due to a complication of diseases," Annie passed away at home on May 2, 1935. She "had been in ill health for four years and bedfast for the past five weeks... A daughter, Mrs. Lloyd Gehman, preceded her in death slightly more than a year ago." In addition to her immediate family, Annie was survived by her brothers August Beitler and James Beitler of New York City and a step-brother, Lloyd Moll of Mertztown. Funeral services were held at the Miller home, with additional services in the Upper Milford Mennonite Church, and interment in the church cemetery. The funeral, preached by Rev. H.G. Nyce, "was largely attended," said the Morning Call. Henry continued his labors cutting stone and relocated to Lea Street. To generate additional income, he served as section at the Bowers and Solomon's Reformed Church. In the summer of 1941 made news when two of his large double markers were placed at the graves of Michael Schmoyer and his wife at Huff's Union Church and at the graves of Henry Diehl and his wife at the Upper Milford Mennonite Church. Said the Morning Call, "Mr. Miller made and put up the marker in the shape and size of a woodstove some years ago for the Berks County Historical society, near Mensch Mill, marking the site of the first charcoal furnace in Pennsylvania." Then in May 1942, he again was in the news when markers he crafted were installed at the final resting places of Joseph Watz in New Jerusalem Cemetery and for William Batz and his wife in the Egypt Union Cemetery in Grimsville. Henry was such a fixture in the community that in March 1945, at the age of 73, he was profiled in the Morning Call.
Down through the years, Henry Miller has left the imprint of his art on many cemeteries and hundreds of family plots. He has also done other work in his line, which is unusual and stands out for its artistry and effectiveness. He cut the corner stone for one of the buildings at the Kutztown State Teachers College. The first stove that was made in Pennsylvania, was made at Mensch's millon the site where the Reformed Church's Camp Mensch is now located. The man who forged it, a man named Mayberry, is buried in the woods near the camp, along with three Indians. The Berks county historical society was anxious to have one of those original stoves, with plates 1¼ inches thick. They commissioned Henry S. Miller, the stone cutter, to build it out of Siesholtzville granite. "I'll build it," said Henry, "but I must have something to go by." So a member of the Berks county society went to Chicago, took the measurements and some pictures of the first Pennsylvania-built stove. From those, Henry Miller built one out of granite. It is located in what was once the furnace at Camp Mensch. Along the highways between Huff's Church and Seisholtzville, there is a marker, made out of Seisholtzville granite, commemorating the site of the old furnace. Henry Miller made it. He is proud of that job, for there are more than a hundred letters cut on the stone. It was a long and tedious job, but he enjoyed every minute of it.
Between Huff's Church and Henningsville, the Rohrbach family monument stands along the highway. It is a beautiful piece of work and Henry Miller did the job. Mayberry, the man who built the first stove to be built in Pennsylvania has a head marker at his final resting place in the woods near Camp Mensch. Henry Miller cut it and placed it at the direction of the historical society. Not all the work he has done is confined to lettering. He has made monuments with figures on them and has been highly commended for this type of work, especially one job, "Jesus at the Cross," for the expression he moulded out of the features. Yet, he says he does not make a practice of this. "That is an art in itself," he says.... Only last year, when he was 72, he was commissioned to move the John L. Trexler monument on the Mertztown cemetery. It weighs 4500 pounds, so that was quite an undertaking. He built the new foundation then he moved the monument without so much as one helping hand, using only a crowbar and rollers.... Mr. Miller specializes in raised lettering. In former years he also worked much on German script for monuments. He did the last one five years ago. There is no longer a demand for it. He also did one monument in Hebrew, for a party in Philadelphia.
A story in the Morning Call in 1945 said that that he had given up the sexton work and "in more recent years has confined his efforts to his art and he still digs graves at Fairview cemetery." His final residence was at 101 Walnut Street in Macungie. During the winter of 1949, he contracted a deadly combination of influenza, pneumonia and bronchitis, and then was felled by a heart attack, dying on March 10, 1949. His remains were lowered into repose in the Upper Milford Mennonite Church in Zionsville.
Great-grandson Leroy Prutzman dwelled in Hamburg, Berks County in 1969.
Great-granddaughter Iva Prutzman wedded George Eisenhard and lived on Lea Street in Macungie in 1945.
Great-granddaughter Eva M. Prutzman ( ? -1994) married Melvin Stump and resided in Kutztown.
Great-granddaughter Anna Marie Prutzman was joined in wedlock with Daniel Snyder. Their home in 1969 was in Shoemakersville.
Great-granddaughter Lena Prutzman was united in matrimony with Roy Read. In 1969, they dwelled in Hamburg.
Son Jonathan Miller ( ? - ? ) dwelled in Seisholtzville in 1902.
~ Son Henry Heimbach ~
Son Henry Heimbach (1850-1915) was born on Sept. 15, 1850. He learned the trade of carpentry and wood carving from his father, and the two are believed to have worked together in Longswamp circa 1870.
In about 1877, he was married to (?).
The couple appears to have been separated by 1900, with Henry living with his nephew David J. Leibensperger on a farm in Longswamp Township, Berks County but claiming he had been married for 23 years.
In 1915, he made his home in Pottstown, Montgomery County at 557 Jefferson Street, and earned a living carving wooden toys.
Sadly, at the age of 65, he died two days after Christmas 1915. A local official wrote that Henry had been "confined to house for 10 days or so suffering from asthmatic condition and heart disease. About 3 days before death Dr. Lee F. Manger called to see him at request of Capt. Wm. Black of Salvation Army, found him suffering as above through not serious and advised his removal to Hospital. Deceased had been taking medicine for some time and expressed an aversion to going to the Hospital. The Doctor insisted, and on Dec. 17, 1915 the Good Will Ambulance was called and took him to the Homeopathic Hospital. He passed away just as he was being taken into Hospital or a minute before. Dr. Manger did not see him at that time. He says death was caused by valvular heart disease & asthma but could not issue certificate because he did not see him for 2 or possibly 3 days before. I find nothing whatever unlawful or suspicious in the circumstances of his death and did not feel it was a Coroner's case." Mrs. Henry Haws of 16 South Hanover Street in Pottstown was the informant for the death certificate, and spelled the maiden name of Henry's mother as "Wentzel." Interment was in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Pottstown.
~ Daughter Amanda "Manda" Heimbach ~
Daughter Amanda "Manda" Heimbach (1858-1909) was born on June 12, 1858 in Longswamp Township, Berks County.
She never married but in November 1878, at the age of 20, gave birth to a son who had been fathered by Alvin Buck. She named her son Franklin N. "Frank" Buck.
She learned the skill of sewing and was a dressmaker. When the federal census enumeration was made in 1880, she resided with her widowed father in Longswamp Township, Berks County, and next door to her married sister Lovina Leibensperger. Circa 1909, she lived in Fleetwood, Longswamp Township, Berks County. She paid a visit to her nephew David J. Leibensperger that July and soonafter became "critically ill from nervous paralysis," reported the Allentown Democrat.
Suffering from convulsions and paralysis, she succumbed at the age of 51 on July 29, 1909. Son Frank Buck of Fleetwood, Berks County was the informant for the death certificate. Burial was in Fleetwood Cemetery.
Son Franklin N. "Frank" Buck (1878-1937) was born on Nov. 8, 1878, with his birth recorded in the family Bible. He made his home in Richmond Township, Berks County. Frank married Lillian "Lillie" Sassaman (April 23, 1874-1948), daughter of Joel and Catherine (Boyer) Sassaman. They produced at least one son, Warren S. Buck. Frank earned a living as a house painter and antique dealer. He suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and died of heart failure at the age of 58 on St. Patrick's Day 1937. Burial was in Fleetwood Cemetery. A short death notice was printed in the Allentown Morning Call. Lillie lived for another 11 years as a widow. She contracted cancer of the liver and uterus and succumbed at age 74 on June 8, 1948. Charles Buck of Fleetwood signed the official Pennsylvania certificate of death.
Copyright © 2018 Mark A. Miner